A Portrait of a Bathroom Graffiti Artist

By Jake 

It's a compulsion, I suppose. I have a need to create. Marker in hand, I slip into a public restroom. It is just what I do.

Some call what I do graffiti, and maybe they are right. I consider it art. To me, a swastika etched into the wall of a toilet stall above a glory hole is as beautiful as the Mona Lisa. I prefer poems and short phrases. Maybe I should become a professional writer. I don't feel like it is time to switch my medium.

When I stand there, in the stall, my mind races with millions of micro-fragments of ideas. I just have to latch onto one, and make the concept real.

Today I am going for a simple phrase. Four smooth words that will catch somebody's eye and bring a smile to their face.

I head to the Shell station and slink toward the restroom. By this point I have the entire idea fleshed out in my head. I know exactly what my maker will scrawl.

This restroom is just a toilet, a urinal and sink. To me it's a blank canvas. It is mostly free of graffiti. I pull the cap from my marker, the smell is barely noticeable above that of stale piss. I begin to write.

When I'm finished, I look at my work with great pride and criticism. Satisfaction swells up inside me and return to my true life until this compulsion grabs ahold of me again.


  1. To me, the true beauty of stall art is not the mere opportunity to imprint a piece of our perverse being, but to inspire a holistic process of philosphical thought that strokes the grime of our souls. I once encountered this tome: "Anybody can piss on the floor. It takes a real man to shit on the ceiling." I saw it as a challenge to what we percieve to be manhood itself! Perhaps it isn't about our sexual organs, chromosomes, or even identities. It's about what we dare to dream and reach to accomplish. For that man, it was shitting on the ceiling. For me, it was denying the pressure and assuring myself that I was, indeed, still a man without resorting to something...really icky (and possibly a felony).

    The stall can even be a genesis of democratic processes! I once encountered a most glorious of stalls that had a tally vote system over whether they were there to shit or cum. One clever rascal, denied of his proper choice, wrote in "BOTH" and put in a tally of his own. That speaks to the ideal of what democracy ought to be!

    I challenge one to find a more beautiful and pure representation of America, and all for which she stands, than what can be found in a bathroom of a college dormatory.

  2. The graffiti is real, but I didn't write it. I wrote this article though. I hope that clears things up.

  3. In real America, graffiti art of that nature is usually followed by someone else writing "Jesus Loves You."

  4. @Nate - Then they would usually add, "r dick." Somebody will then suggest a phone number for Jesus so he can love your dick like no other man can. Calling it could lead to so many possibilities...but never Jesus.

    There's a metaphor for religion here somewhere. I'm just not sure what it is.

  5. In Hammond, IN, bathrooms tend to be littered with swastikas moreso than phone numbers, penis drawings and lewd sayings. Then somebody (probably the management) would sometimes turn the swastikas into 4 boxes.

    This site is worth looking at if you are interested in bathroom art.

  6. That's actually pretty sad. There was a brief period at my college where one of our bathrooms got hit hard by a variety racist stuff, and it was a building that international students frequented often.

    The website is actually pretty epic. I should journey back to my college and take a picture of the "ANYBODY CAN PISS ON THE FLOOR. IT TAKES A REAL MAN TO SHIT ON THE CEILING" line. Usually gets recarved every year.

  7. Some of the most offensive drawings I've seen in stalls were at college. My favorite was the words "Obama" and "Satan" written as a cross where the first A's in each word intersect. I think I twitpicked it.